Ol’ Blank Flank is back

Quelle surprise:

Hillary Clinton in pony form

Note the total absence of a cutie mark. As teacher Cheerilee explains:

A cutie mark appears on a pony’s flank when he or she finds that certain something that makes them different from every other pony.

Not gonna happen in her lifetime: never a leader, always a follower, and what she follows mostly are the twin scents of money and power. Like most of the competition, in fact.

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One step toward Red

I don’t know anyone who’s signed up for YouTube’s Red service, which allows consumption of, one assumes, mass quantities of media for a monthly subscription fee. And up to this point, YouTube’s actual revenues from yours truly equaled the proverbial goose egg. Still, some things are worth paying for, and as an experiment — and in my capacity as a longtime non-subscriber to Discovery Family, which the cable company has pushed out to some far-distant Nosebleed Tier — I put up some coin of the realm yesterday to watch the newest episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a show-business fable titled “The Mane Attraction,” ever-so-slightly based on George du Maurier’s Trilby. (The manipulative manager is named “Svengallop,” fercryingoutloud.) We’re talking $1.99, or $2.99 for actual HD. Mostly, I was curious to see how convoluted paying for an episode would be.

As it happens, the answer to that was “Not very,” since I already had a Google Wallet specified: two buttons, and the deed was done. (Your mileage may vary.) They are offering a season ticket — 26 episodes for approximately the price of ten — so I may do that for Season Six. After all, one must support the content creators at some level, and paying the cable company an extra $200 a year is not a level I’d consider useful.

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No weirder than Steven Magnet

And Hasbro has put their imprimatur on it, so it must be so:

MLP game card featuring the changeling from Slice of Life

EqD suggests M. A. Larson had something to do with this. I’d believe that, maybe, if the little buglet had extra wings.

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Local pony fan supported

From way back in the day:

The Brony Thank You Fund is now raising funds to start a permanent animation scholarship to Calarts, the school where such people as Lauren Faust, Craig McCracken, and Tim Burton got their start, among many, many others.

And we have, for the first time, a winner:

As folks may recall, the Brony Thank You Fund endowed a permanent scholarship at the California Institute of the Arts a year ago, the Derpy Hooves Scholarship in Character Animation. We have just been informed by CalArts that the first recipient is Thirla Alagala, a third-year student. She took the time to give a shout out in her Tumblr, complete with her own version of Derpy. She says that she’d love to hear from the brony community, and we look forward to seeing her in the credits of some great animation once she graduates!

Smiles? We got some. Pass the muffins.


Roll playing

The ponies of Equestria presumably have no problem getting toilet paper:

A bit of TPing on Nightmare Night

Meanwhile, the humans of Chile have had to deal with collusion between the two largest makers of the stuff:

Chilean anti-trust regulators have charged two of the country’s biggest toilet paper manufacturers with taking part in a price-fixing scheme to corner the market for sanitary tissue and other products between 2000 and 2011, officials said Thursday.

The alleged scheme has outraged Chileans, who in the past have also been victims of price-fixing scandals involving chicken and prescription drugs.

According to economic investigators, CMPC Tissue and SCA Chile colluded to share out the market and fix the price of toilet paper rolls and other paper products.

The two firms controlled about 90 percent of the market for toilet paper. Then again, at least there was a market; to the north, in Venezuela, there has been chaos.

(Via Fausta’s blog.)

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Meanwhile at Sugarcube Corner

From now until late November, there exists a My Little Pony cafe in Japan:

MLP cafe in Harujuku

For a limited time, Harujuku, Japan will have its very own My Little Pony-themed cafe. The restaurant will be serving up colorful dishes with pictures of ponies emblazoned right on the food. Diners can enjoy ponies both new and old, with characters from generations one and four.

Besides themed food and menus, there’s also a giant mural on the back wall and cut-outs to pose with, and pony dolls and stuffed animals are scattered around the establishment. Before you leave, you can also buy themed merchandise like notebooks and keychains.

Twilight Sparkle place mat

The most expensive item on the menu is around $11; T-shirts and such run $20ish. (Yen exchange rate may vary.)

Assuming there were no logistical problems, would you take a date to this place? (There is, of course, no point in asking me this.)

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So many years later

We know that Celestia and Luna are over a thousand years old: Luna spent a thousand years in exile, and she’s the younger sibling. What canon doesn’t say is how long they can live; fanfic writers generally work from the premise that there is no upper limit, but tend to shy away from the word “immortal.” Then again, some try to subvert the trope:

“Well, I was wondering. Just how immortal, if that’s the word, are you and your sister anyway?”

Celestia shook her mane, and he imagined he saw a map of the sky just beyond her head. “Having reached physical maturity, Luna and I do not age in the usual sense. But we know that there are forces in the Universe capable of taking us down.”

He nodded, remembering an incident at a previous Canterlot wedding.

“Which is why we shy away from the word ‘immortal’; it implies that we can survive anything, an implication that has some basis in reality, but one I would not like to put to the test.”

At the end of the third season, Twilight Sparkle ascended to alicornhood: she may not have the sheer size of the sisters, but she is presumed to have the same physical attributes, to include, though canon doesn’t say so, that indefinite lease on life.

Which creates a problem: what happens when she inevitably outlives all her friends?

I tucked a link to this in an earlier post, but inasmuch as this scenario is still haunting me, I’m going full Captain Obvious here:

I wept for rather a long time.

Eventually I did regain my composure. I sought out, and purchased, the two musical selections, both composed by Thomas J. Bergersen, before I realized that owning copies of these tracks meant I get to remind myself of this story, to relive my sorrow, that much more often.

In some ways, this is the most “me” thing I’ve ever done.

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An Equestria Girl at heart

Lindsey Stirling IS Sunset Shimmer:

Comparison of Lindsey Stirling and Sunset Shimmer

Didn’t see a rainboom in the video, but what the heck.


How much is that in bits?

There’s plenty of disagreement among fanfic writers in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic universe as to how much a bit “really” is. Better we should ask the basis for those bits, inasmuch as our own humanoid currency is sort of questionable these days:

[W]hen you hold cash, it’s supposed to lead back into something tangible. Whatever someone has assigned value to and can’t readily be carried, portable money substitutes for. Precious metals, for whatever reason someone decided they were worth something. Jewels, perhaps. (Humans have a certain weakness for shiny objects. Ravens with slightly improved grasping digits and lower impulse control.) You can’t ask the government for that backing material any more, at least locally. There are still silver certificate bills in circulation — they were supposed to be pulled, but collectors and dusty rainy-day stashes occasionally release a bill or two — but unless they’re crisp enough to resell as that collectible, they can only be used for their face value. The value we’re all basically lying to each other about because as long as we all lie, the system remains more or less intact.

Once upon a time, the United States ran on silver. Then gold. (Today, possibly debt.) The currency must lead back to something, even if that thing doesn’t exist.

And what might that thing be in Equestria? Think power. Herewith, a possible basis:

If the name “bits” hadn’t been assigned to us, I would count Equestrian currency in sols (or lunes). Because there are times when currency leads back to labor. You clear my fields for eight hours and I’ll give you four chickens. However, I really don’t feel like keeping those clucking menaces around, so here’s a piece of paper which you can present to a man in town, and he’ll give you the chickens for me … on such small things do economies grow.

And the ultimate labor is that which makes Sun and Moon keep working.

What’s Equestria’s ultimate promise to the world? We will keep the cycle going. And that’s about as strong a backing for a monetary system as you can ask for.

So if I was working on this, I would have the money powered by pony labor, with the sisters at the top of that scale. Ultimately, money is traded out to the other nations with the understanding that the palace will maintain the orbits. Oh, there are other forms of ponyhours being traded out: send us these goods and we’ll dispatch pegasi to adjust your weather system. Access to magic — especially that which the other species don’t have — gives a nation some powerful leverage in the world economy, although some of that is countered by what said other species can bring to the table. But at the far end of the chain … there is a simple promise. What backs Equestria’s economy is the most fundamental labor to exist in that world, performed four times per cycle — or there is no cycle at all.

If this doesn’t make sense, imagine trying to explain currencies in this world, most of which have value only because large institutions with stores of arms say they do.

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Lots more bits

Hasbro, having learned that it can easily sell stuff with double-digit price tags to pony fans, is now upping the ante:

The newest line of My Little Pony toys is definitely not for kids.

Hasbro Inc. and Integrity Toys, Inc. are collaborating on a “high end collectible” series called <3 My Little Pony, exclusively designed (and priced) for adult fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. These fans are colloquially called Bronies, a mostly adult, male Internet-spawned fandom with an unusual cultural position which is nearly as mainstream as My Little Pony itself.

And I suppose it’s nice to be acknowledged:

“There’s a tremendous adult market,” Integrity Toys spokesperson Carol Roth said in an interview… “The reality is most My Little Pony collectors are in their 20s to 60s and possibly even older than that.”

Well, we do have more disposable income than do the grade-school girls in the putative target audience.

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We shall overcomb

Artist Pixelkitties tweeted this picture a couple of days ago:

New tax on bad hairpieces by Pixelkitties

Still makes me smile.

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Taking care of the little things

With My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic just beyond halfway through Season Five, with the sixth season already graven in stone and probably already storyboarded, this is about the point where you start to wonder: do they start going through the motions, or are they going to try to keep cranking up the brilliance?

“Rarity Investigates!” pretty well answered that question, for now anyway, in favor of that second alternative: I continue to be delighted by the show’s sheer audacity. This isn’t the first time MLP:FiM has tried to solve a mystery, but I wouldn’t have expected it to go almost totally noir — though Rarity, Celestia knows, is as fatale a femme as you’ll find in Equestria. William Anderson’s background music, as always, was on point, and while I had turned to take a sip of a minor libation, I heard the subtle strains of a muted trumpet. Perfect, I thought, and turned back to the screen to see this:

Screenshot from Rarity Investigates

Of course they did. (Anderson played it himself, I’m told.) And they even replaced the outro theme with more of the same. The subtween girls at whom the show is officially pitched are getting all sorts of unexpected cultural familiarization beyond merely “buy these toys”; the rest of us simply smile a lot.

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Added to the itinerary

Now and then I hear about A Place I Need To See before the curtain comes down. For example:

This got my attention with Pinkie-like speed, and before noon I was poking through Flickr looking for photos that made sense in this context. Here’s one:

Solvang California by Vanessa Rose

Were it not for the motor vehicles, you could almost see it. Or at least I can.

(Photo credit: Vanessa Rose. Here’s her Flickr original.)


Now with actual wings

Yes, I know:

Kind of looks like Pinkie Pie on the door there. Then again, if anypony can accelerate to blinding speeds without wings, it’s Pinkie.

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Papa’s got a brand new blind bag

The matter only came up once. The cashier rang up the other items, came upon a My Little Pony toy, and asked, “For the grandchild?”

“No, actually, it’s mine,” I replied. An eyebrow was raised to bangs level, maybe a smidgen higher; but nothing more was said, and nothing since has been said.

So I wasn’t too flabbergasted when Target announced they were moving away from “gender-based” signage:

Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender. In some cases, like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, it makes sense. In others, it may not. Historically, guests have told us that sometimes — for example, when shopping for someone they don’t know well — signs that sort by brand, age or gender help them get ideas and find things faster. But we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.

This may benefit the 13-year-old boy who shudders every time he enters the pink aisles full of Barbie and Dora. But that boy isn’t me, and I’m figuring Hasbro will take this in stride:

To stay alive in marketing is to stay ahead of the game. Target may not have shifted the game in any noticeable way, but it has definitely “planted the plunderseeds” for the future. It’s possible that Hasbro’s future toy designs will have a little less pink and white than today’s designs. It’s also possible that nothing is going to change, and Target might roll back their choice in the coming years if it makes shopping more confusing and unfavorable towards its customers. However I have faith that Target’s choice is the beginning of something huge. Whether it’s the discussion of the social stigmas surrounding children’s toys, or an outright challenge to those by one toy company at a time, I can’t wait for what happens next.

Trust me on this: if the kids are along for the shopping trip, they’ll find the toys they want, whether you want them to or not.

(If you’re not familiar with the concept of the blind bag, this will help.)

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Beyond littleness

Last time we attempted to determine just how Little My Little Pony is supposed to be, we found a 44-inch-tall Great and Powerful Trixie. At the time, I muttered something to this effect:

I’m waiting for suitably scaled stallions, who tend to be taller than mares, or (dare I hope?) Princess Celestia or Luna.

Celestia, of course, is the tallest of them all, and I do mean tall:

Life Size Princess Celestia by Double Backstitch Arts

She was a commission executed by Double Backstitch Arts, who describes her thusly:

Weighs 60lbs plus or minus ten, is 5ft 8in tall, has a wingspan of 108 inches, has a horn nearly 2ft long, required around 25ft of PVC pipe to prop up, took up over 50lbs of stuffing, needed 18 yards of fabric, took countless hours of time over many months, and tested my limits of what I thought plushingly possible. Her regalia is made of EVA foam and lined with a soft red fabric, with custom handcrafted plastic gems. Her body and mane are made from minky, her cutie marks and irises are embroidered. And yes it was a pain embroidering a cutie mark 10 inches wide!

I have no idea how much this actually cost to produce, but hey, I don’t actually need a new car right now.


Why we look forward to the weekend

When there’s a new episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there’s a manic Fark thread to discuss it, and inevitably thread drift is measured on the tidal scale. This week’s thread produced an utterly irrelevant but sort of amusing graphic, of Lyra Heartstrings sitting in the back seat:

Lyra Heartstrings as Rebecca Black

Which proves, I suppose, that it’s possible to get down on Saturday, if you get up early enough.

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How much is that in bits?

Sonic Rainboom at AFK TavernA Seattle drinkery called the AFK Tavern features an utterly fanciful, if perhaps a trifle pricey, libation called the Sonic Rainboom:

Flying against some Wonderbolts, or simply celebrating a friend’s big day? This colorful dropshot ought to help!

“Colorful,” from the looks of things, doesn’t even begin to describe this particular drink. On the off-chance that you’re wondering what the buck goes into this quasi-Equestrian delight:

Um, thanks, M. A. Larson! (Yet another excuse to go to Seattle some day, preferably in a rented car that doesn’t have Oklahoma plates.)

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The main disdain falls plainly on the mane

So this was a thing:

And this was the context which goes with that thing.

I decided to go in a different direction:

You’ll note that at no time did I have to explain it, of course.

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The truth is even farther out there

What would you call an X-Files/My Little Pony crossover?

Yeah, I thought so.

(Via The Daily Dot.)

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